|24. Inside Forward Eight, Factor 1
The geometry of this eight and the placing of the push offs are exactly the same as for the preceding figure (Diagram 3). The position of the body, however, is diametrically opposite, just as for the IF spiral. Whereas the outside edge starts with hips and shoulders parallel to the skating foot, this edge is skated with hips and shoulders square, or at right angles, to the line of the circle. While standing in T-position for the start (Illus. 26), try to make your hipline as square as possible above your right foot (Diagram 3-1; Illus. 26-1). It is impossible, of course, to put your hips completely on the line of the long axis, but if you will turn your right toe back until it is at an angle of even more than 90 degrees from your left toe, you will find that it helps you to get an accurate short axis start. As soon as you have pushed off, allow your free knee to bend and come inside the circle (26-2, 7) almost beside the skating knee (which is, of course, deeply bent). The free foot, well turned out from the knee, will be behind and inside the line of the circle with only the heel of the free skate over the print (26-7). Hold this pushoff position until the halfway mark (26-3), where you again reverse your arms and move your free foot close forward (26-4) into the number 2 position (26-5, 8) (cf. the IF rolls). Close your circles and push off (26-6) with identical placement, balance, and timing as in the OF eight.
You will find this eight easy and pleasant, and you'll never have any qualms about it. On the other hand, few people do it really well. A fine IF start is difficult to perfect, as there is a distinct tendency to lunge the body forward at the pushoff, and to lean in too much. It is also much too easy to let the free foot slip behind across the print to the outside of the circle right from a vigorous pushoff—a mistake that, just as in your spiral, will at best narrow the radius of your curve, at worst will cause your skate to skid. You will find yourself skating a figure six, not an eight!
The cure for these common errors must be found in an almost exaggerated backward balance on the blade throughout, which is achieved by holding the hips firmly forward and pulling down the base of the spine. As soon as you push, you must at once tighten the muscles of the derriere, especially on the free side, and be instantly conscious of the placement of the free foot. Following the theory that the hips must not be allowed to rotate in the direction of the curve or change position around the circle, forward pressure must be maintained on the free hip from the start. Once the free leg passes forward, it is easy to keep this pressure. It is only the first half-circle that presents a real problem of control and balance. But if the first half of a circle is uncontrolled, the second half is always difficult. It is the number 1 position of every edge that sets up the eight. Because at least three-quarters of the body weight is inside the circumference of the circle, this edge presents a delicate problem in counterbalancing. A strong edge is gained by pressing in the skating hip hard, or "hollowing" it (26-2, 5, 8), and at the same time keeping the weight on the skating shoulder directly over the line of the circle. The shoulders are level throughout. After the free foot passes forward, I have found it helps to press it toward the outside of the circle. As you are closing the circles, look down over your skating side and watch your skating foot meet the opposite circle before you turn it for the pushoff. This is a figure in which it's easy to think the circles have met neatly, only to find on close inspection that the finishes have been diagonal and the starts have overlapped.
The ideal you must strive for in all your figure skating is an even speed. Don't race and don't crawl. One will precipitate you off balance, and the other will give you wobbly lines. Try to finish your figures at exactly the same rate of speed you started them. This can be accomplished only with a judicious bend and rise of the skating knee. (Straightening the bent knee slowly and with muscular force presses the body weight down into the ice and, if the weight is on the right part of the skate, increases the run of the blade.) Don't push any harder, or even as hard, for your second or third circles, as the extra speed will tend to increase their size.
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